CHAWAN Historical Developments

by Bryan Mulvihill, 2022

As the habit of `taking tea’ developed over the millennium, so did the necessary utensils for the processing and preparing of this rapidly popular social beverage.  As the old Chinese idiom goes, “it is necessary to have effective tools to do good work.”  This is true for daily labour as well as creative activities.  With the evolutions of `tea culture’, the taking of tea developed as a spiritual and artistic practice. The utensils used for partaking of tea are not just convenient to use but also reflect the aesthetic and symbolic mindsets of those coming together to engage through the arts of tea.  The Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 CE) connoisseur of all things tea, Lu Yu, in his 760 CE, `Cha-ching; Book of Tea’, designated 24 vessels and related objects necessary for the art of tea.  It may be hard to understand that so many complicated implements were required to prepare and drink tea, however, in the early days it was a from a home-grown tea bush to tea bowl procedure. Starting with selecting the choicest young tea leaves just before dawn. The leaves need further grading, cleaning, fermenting, drying, and storing for optimal times to bring out the flavours and medicinal properties, before grinding them into tea powders. They are then prepared with high-quality waters brought to the perfect temperatures for each style of tea to bring out there most subtle qualities. 

During the Tang  Dynasty, brewing methods evolved from boiling shaved off powder from dried tea bricks along with a pinch of salt, at times even with onion, dried fruit peels, or flower petals.  A version of this method still survives along the Western tea trade routes through Tibet and Mongolia where butter is also added to support health in high altitude regions.

In later Tang dynasty, a `dripping’ method became popular and spread wildly during both Northern and Southern Sung dynasties, especially in the Buddhist, Taoist, hermitages and monasteries.  The finest early spring green– two leaves and a bud– are dried, stored in sealed jars for six months then ground in stone mortars to a fine powder and whisked into a frothy foam directly in tea bowls with a bamboo whisk.  Monks and nuns carried small dark brown-black Temmoku bowls in their robe pouches.  During breaks in long meditation sessions, a tea caddy of finely powdered tea, matcha, was passed along the rows of meditators, with a thin bamboo tea scoop; chashaku.  Each adept would take two heaping scoops of tea powder, considered the correct medicinal douse for one bowl of tea.  A ceramic hot water ewer with a bamboo whisk, or chasen, attached follows the tea caddy. Each adept would add a small quantity of water and whisk their own tea before passing the water jug down the line. Whisked tea quickly became popular in court circles and the proliferation of public teahouses during Sung dynasties. Fine celadon and porcelain tea utensils were replacing the small temmoku bowls along with the spreading popularity leaf green and oolong style teas brewed in pots.  

This style of whisked powdered tea was brought by Buddhist adepts to Korea and Japan along with high regard for temmoku tea bowls.  There are records of Emperor Shomu from 729 CE, holding `Gyocha’ readings of Buddhist sutras in the Palace where tea was served. However it was not until the Kamakura Period (11 85 – 1333),  after Zen Priest Eisai, founded Kenninji Temple in Kyoto in 1168 CE and sowed tea seeds brought back from Sung China, that tea drinking gained wide acceptance. Temples with tea gardens became common in numerous areas of Japan.  Zen soon found wide acceptance in the samurai, merchant and working classes as well. As Zen took hold in Japan so did the cultivation and popularity of tea.

To trace chronologically the transitions of tea bowls’ from an art form into a symbol of Zen understanding and appreciation, begin with the span from Kamakura to the mid-Muromachi period, ie the late twelfth to the end of the fifteenth century. During this time refined Sung dynasty tea wares imported from China formed the vast majority. Chief amongst them was the temmoku, Chinese Jian ware, along with some celadon and porcelain bowls.  During the Kamakura period, powdered tea was an expensive luxury, confined to monks and the upper classes, who were connoisseurs of imported Chinese wares. By the 14th C. in the Muromachi Period (1333 – 1568), tea became more popular as an elegant amusement with the middle classes;  ritualized tea gatherings attempting to identifying the origins and qualities of specific tea growers became popular.  Chinese tea utensils were hard to come by and increasingly expensive, thus Japanese kilns like Seto and Mino began to produce local versions of Temmoku bowls. With an expanding tea culture in the Muromachi period came great appreciation and demand for fine tea utensils,  tea bowls and caddies in particular became highly prized possessions and symbols of prestige.  The Ashikaga shoguns Yoshimitsu (1358 – 1408) and Yoshimasa (1436 – 1490) record Chinese tea utensils amongst their most prized treasures, with graded ranks of quality, provenance and importance.

By the mid-1400 tea ware, aesthetics based on perfection and formal grandeur began to wane.  Merchant tea men like Murata Shuko (1421? – 1502) developed accord with an atmosphere described as “chilled and withered” (hiekaruru) – an expression of the “Wabi”; a noun form of the verb `wabu’, to feel forlorn’, which has connotations enjoying the retired life, astringency, sobriety. In chanoyu, the ideals of `wabi-suki’, indicates a realm of seasoned simplicity, rustic tranquillity, preparing tea without grand tea utensils. Shuko states, “I do not care for the moon without clouds”, referring to the use of  Chinese tea ceramics, which were resplendent without blemish,  he preferred utensils which were practical, earthy, with a candid quality, symbolized by the moon among the clouds.  Shuko expounded on the beauty of asymmetry, austerity, a lofty dryness, and naturalness preferred over Sung ware perfection. Shuko began using local country pottery, Bizen water jars, Seto temmoku tea bowls and even when using Chinese pieces, he preferred rough celadon which came to be known as Shuko Celadon.

Although there is a history of many great Zen laymen in China; P’ang Yun in 8th C. P’ei Hsiu, Po Chu-i, Su Tung-p’o, the principal tendency there was toward monastic Zen. The Zen established in Japan in monasteries became formalized koan Zen practice using old recorded cases of Awakening as models of practice, or Taza Zen; `sitting’ practice, carrying on the lineages from Chinese formal monastic training.  However in Japan, Zen practice and infueunce flourished amongst the laymen and masses, many of whom having taken formal training in monasteries, returned to their family trades as Samurai, merchant traders, craft people and farmers. Zen began to manifest in Japan through material culture produced by laymen. Zen inspired No performance,  music, haiku poetry, swordsmanship and `Chanoyu’ the Way of Tea’ in particular. Chanoyu became above all the cultural expression of Zen, the like of which was not to be found in China. Chanoyu was inspired by and preserved much of previous Zen culture, especially in calligraphy and ink painting,  while giving rise to a new type of `integrated, Zen expression of wabi.

Murata Shuko’s `wabi-cha’ was taken up by the increasingly prosperous merchant tea men of Sakai and Kyoto, Takeno Joo (1502 – 55)  Tsuda Sotatsu, Kitamuki Dochinmany, Rikyu’s first tea teacher,  brought to full manifestation by Sen no Rikyu (1522 – 91). Wabi, proposed poverty surpassing riches, in accordance with Zen, is a creative self-expressive structure which gave cultural form to a Zen way of life.  The Japanese verb, `konomu’; to evaluate, to choose, in accordance with a focused Zen way of an integrated awareness in everyday life, philosophy, ethics, art, manners, clothing, food, architecture, nature, and the changing seasons. The Way of Tea was neither merely an art form nor a culture, but an integrated way of life with Zen as its basis.  Zen– Chan in Chinese– is the transliteration of the Sanskrit, Pali,  word for Dhyana, to pay attention, meditation. In Rikyu’s words, “Tea in a humble room consists first and foremost in practising and attaining the truth of Buddha”, to awaken the true nature of the mind.  These Chanoyu men of tea made use of and held in high appreciation of the subtle qualities of objects used in the Way of Tea from China, Korea, and South Asia along with their local craft productions. Many everyday objects, not valued or even noticed in the hands and lands of their makers, were elevated to treasured tea utensils.

The Korai (Korean) rice bowls produced between the end of the Koryo dynasty (918 – 1392) and the beginning of the Yi (1392 – 1910) were highly appreciated for their fully manifest wabi, quiet taste. These are the qualities tea men of Sakai from Murata Shuko, Tsuda Sotatsu, Taken Joo, and  Rikyu’s first tea teacher, Kitamuki Dochin, expounded. They all record utilizing Korai bowls in their Wabi-cha. By the late 1550s, the merchant’s Wabi tea had become the most popular Way of Tea.  The feudal lords, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and others were engaging these tea men of Sakai to build their own collections.  These tea merchants created a prosperous trade with old kilns around Pusan in southern Korea, even commissioning them to make  new chawan to their design and tastes. Korean potters established new chawan kilns around Pusan ports to supply the Japanese teamen.  Numerous Korean potters were brought to Japan, not always under their own choosing, to set up kilns and train Japanese apprentices.  Rikyu is known to have possessed a number of Kori chawan, one named `Mishima Oke’, is believed to have been the model for the bowls he  commissioned from Chojiro, the first in the Raku lineage. Chokiro had been working as a roof tile maker in the Namban Imogashira kiln in Kyoto.

It was a natural, inartificial,  quiet feeling with rustic charm that Chojiro applied to Kori style chawan.  Rikyu prescribed these bowl as perfect for use in the small tea room for his Wabi tea. 

Many of Rikyu’s students went on to commission numerous Korean and local Japanese potters to make bowls to their own particular designs and prefrences. Yamonoue Soji collected, commissioned and placed in prominent collections Kori chawan along  with bowls inspried by Korean styles commissionsed from local Japanese potteries of  Arita, Seto, Mino, Imayaki, Bizen, Shigaraki, and Kochi. Furuta Oribe (1544 – 1615) Rikyu’s successor along with Rikyu’s sons Sotan, designed and commissioned a wide range of `preferred’ styles.  Kobori Enshu developed kirei-sabi; an `elegant rusticity chanoyu aesthetic.  It was these Zen laymen of tea who, working closely with Korean and local Japanese potters, along with metalsmiths, lacquer makers, bamboo and wood carvers, garden deisgners, architects and builders manifested a dynamic expression of Zen-inspired Wabi culture that was to become the mainstay of Japanese cultural expression throughout the coming centuries that carries on until the present day.

Sung dynasty celadon and temmoku from China have been greatly admired in chanoyu since the Kamakura period, but did not strike the responsive chords in Wabi-cha to be called `naturalized’ chawan. The Sung dynasty ceramics, with in there perfected beauty, in whatever surroundings they are placed, continue to be judged on there own as the culmination of Chinese ceramics. In the setting of Wabi-cha, their polished and lofty style holds a beauty so universal and so immediately apparent that it seems to demand that the beholder maintain a respectful distance. This is in sharp contrast to the way in which the Korean bowls have been brought into the life of wabi-cha, to dwell within its rustic sense of beauty.  It was the Sakai and Kyoto men of tea who discovered and elevated these daily wares into a refined art form that was capable of transmitting manifestations and awareness of Zen into the Way of Tea.  Chawan, chaire; tea containers and chasen; tea scoops are perhaps the most highly successful symbols of this aesthetic of Zen of wabi, which is perhaps why they are the most appreciated, examined and discussed objects during chanoyu gatherings.  Chawan while being perfected vessals for whisking and savouring powdered green tea, manage to convey a state of mind that is in harmony with one’s natural surroundings. 

The Tea Bowl is the Lotus Flower

By Lam Wong, 2022

In the Buddhist tradition, there is a legend of how during a sermon Buddha transmitted the mysterious dharma. Keeping silent, Buddha simply raised a single stem of a lotus flower and smiled. While all the monks were puzzled by his gesture, Mahākāśyapa 摩訶迦葉, one of the Buddha’s senior disciples, smiled and understood Buddha’s intention and wisdom perfectly. Without words, all in silence — this has come to be known as “heart-to-heart transmission.”

Along with his or her robes, a bowl is the most important of a monk’s possessions. When a master has chosen a successor, he or she would pass on these two items as proof of lineage. One of mankind’s earliest hand-crafted containers, a tea bowl is made of stone or clay. With care it can withstand the rigours of harsh weather and last for centuries. Just like the human spirit, a bowl withstands all the complexities of life but expresses itself in a quiet way: simple yet conveying significant meaning.

Unaffected by time and discursive thoughts, a chawan 茶碗 (tea bowl) plays the role of a silent messenger in the Zen-inspired ritualistic tea ceremony, whether in Chinese tea sage Lu Yu’s 陸羽 (773-804) wilderness tea hermitage or inside Japanese Chanoyu 茶の湯 grandmaster Sen no Rikyū’s 千 利休 (1522-1591) asymmetrical tea room. The chawan quietly holds the sacred message of the tea maker’s intention. The bowl carries all the essence of life and the tea itself as it’s passed from tea maker to drinker. In virtually a religious manner, the beauty of this process is unvoiced but understood, like Buddha’s raising a single lotus flower.

During the late southern Song Dynasty 宋朝 (1127-1279), tea from the Wuyi Mountain 武夷山 area in Southern China became popular among the elite and court members in the Chinese capital, Hangzhou. A new culture of stoneware tea bowls using rich dark glazes developed in the small town of Jianyang 建陽, near Wuyishan. The old Jian ware 建盏 kiln sites 建窯 and ruins showcase the history of the area’s chawan craftsmanship. Mainly used in tea ceremonies, Tenmoku 天目, meaning heavenly eye, was one type of stoneware created in Jian kilns during the Song Dynasty. These dark oil-spotted glazed bowls are arguably the most highly prized chawan in the world, having achieved prominent status among tea lovers. One good example in this exhibition’s collection is the Tenmoku chawan with hare’s fur glaze in mottled black. When looking inside the tea bowl, one feels as if embraced by a black hole void of all form, falling back to the very beginning of our mysterious universe.

Every tea bowl has its own personality embedded within its history and holds a special secret or spirit carried down through the ages from its original owner. Even after its owner has long passed, like Buddha’s relics after his Pali Nirvana 涅槃, each chawan embodies a story. The Kizaemon-Ido 喜佐衛門 tea bowl (16th Century), a Korean Ido 井戸 (Water Well) type glazed, everyday tea bow is an example of such a rare object. This chawan was made by an unknown potter in Korea during the Keicho era 慶長 (1596-1615) with the most ordinary material, backyard clay and casual ash glaze. A wealthy merchant named Takeda Kizaemon from Osaka was its first owner. When Kizaemon lost his fortune, he was forced to sell all of his possessions, but he refused to part with this tea bowl. However, the bowl was believed to possess an evil spirit that cursed Kizaemon and all of the bowl’s successive owners. Each successive owner contracted boils, a troubling skin disease. This Korean Ido tea-bowl was eventually housed at Daitoku-ji 大徳寺 in Kyoto, a temple associated with Japan’s most influential tea master, Sen no Rikyū, and the great artist Kobori Enshū 小堀遠州. Now the Kisaemon-Ido has become likely the single most valuable chawan in the world and a designated National Treasure of Japan.

Yanagi Sōetsu 柳 宗悦 (1889–1961) explained in his book The Unknown Craftsman, translated by the prominent British potter Bernard Leach: 

All beautiful tea-bowls are those obedient to nature. Natural things are healthy things. There are many kinds of art, but none is better than this. Nature produces still more startling results than artifice. The most detailed human knowledge is puerile before the wisdom of nature. Why should beauty emerge from the world of the ordinary? The answer is because that world is natural. In Zen there is a saying that at the far end of the road lies effortless peace. What more can be desired? So, too, peaceful beauty. The beauty of the Kizaemon Ido bowl is that of strifeless peace, and it is fitting that it should rest in that chapel, the Koho-an 孤篷庵, for in that quiet place it offers its silent answer to the seeker.

Fine chawan often communicate and express the Wabi-Sabi 侘寂 philosophy, an aesthetic that values the beauty of life’s imperfection and impermanence. This concept is epitomized in the art of Kintsugi 金継ぎ, an ancient Japanese technique of mending broken ceramic. Kintsugi is a metaphor for acceptance, self-discovery and healing. It sees suffering or the brokenness of traumatic events as part of life. Kintsugi teaches us to be patient and calm, and to remain positive. It helps us learn from our mistakes and appreciate the flaws of life, allowing healing to transform something broken into something more beautiful over time. Here in this exhibition a broken chawan with zigzag golden lines holds this sacred message of embracing our flaws and imperfections. There is no Nirvana without Samsara, no liberation without suffering. 

After water, tea is the most popular drink in the world. The art of tea is a vital and meaningful practice. Sharing tea brings harmony and peace to people from different backgrounds. Though apparently simple, preparing and serving tea requires lifelong learning of the tradition and its various forms, and a deeper knowledge of how tea itself comes into being. The art of tea is deeply rooted in and has long been associated with the Eastern philosophies of Taoism, Buddhism and Zen. Tea art cultivates positivity and improves life in many ways. Each bowl of tea is a treasure, and no single tea encounter can be repeated. As the ancient Zen saying puts it: One Time, One Meeting 一期一會.

Tea bowls are made with many natural elements – earth, stone, clay, glaze, ash, wood, fire, and kiln – brought together through the craftsmanship of a chawan maker. From this perspective, a chawan embraces the whole of nature. When we hold a chawan in our palms, we hold the spirit of nature, a force and source of our very own being. A rustic bowl with myriad colours, textures and expressions is derived from a long history of experiments and techniques of firing and glazing. Whether in the tradition of Tenmoku 天目, Raku 樂, Hagi 萩, Karatsu 唐津 or its two dozen forms of design, each creation pays tribute to the forbearers of master chawan makers in the long evolution of this art form. Each chawan embodies a deep respect for its materials and, most importantly, for nature, as tea and tea bowl are equally wondrous creations. Nature, our best teacher, is the true master. The chawan, in all its simple understated form, carries this message, just like the single lotus flower in Buddha’s hand.



Bryan Mulvihill
Lam Wong

Exhibition Dates
June 18 – August 20, 2022

Chawan means teabowl in both Chinese and Japanese. A remarkable variety of teabowls have been used in Chanoyu, the art (or way) of tea, since its beginning. Asian teabowls – Chinese, Korean, Chinese-influenced Japanese, Korean-influenced Japanese and bowls with original Japanese sensibility – were traditionally selected to complement the overall theme of the specific tea gathering as well as the feeling of the season. Hence, chawan reflects a world of exceedingly fine distinctions. By familiarizing oneself even modestly with the varieties of shape and the production sources of chawan, one gains insight into East Asian ceramics as a whole. Appreciating chawan cultivates an understanding of their myriad forms and also the variations among the kilns that fire them.

Curated by Bryan Mulvihill and Lam Wong, the Chawan exhibition presents teabowls drawn from private collections and from ceramic artists in the Far East and the Canadian West Coast, and from the Japanese Chanoyu tradition. The exhibit focuses solely on ceramic teabowls used in Chanoyu, the art and way of tea. The first of its kind in Canada, the exhibit offers the public a unique opportunity to appreciate this beautiful art form.

The Chawan exhibition opens at Canton-sardine on June 18th and runs through August 20th, with an opening reception on Saturday, June 18th from 12 to 6 pm.


Bamboo Mountain Studio
David Flynn
Naoko Fukumaru
Hu Wei
Lyn Johnson
Charmian Johnson
Danny Kostyshin
Heinz Laffin
Jiasen Lee
Glenn Lewis
Sakai Matsumoto
Kimura Morikasu
Kimura Moriyasu
Michael Morris
Bryan Mulvihil
Gailan Ngan
Wayne Ngan
Nancy Nguyen
Seji Okuda
Leo Ray
John Reeve
Lari Robson
Mr. & Mrs. Shinohara
Robert Stickney
Nao Suganuma
Genki Takbayashi Roshi
Patti Thompson
Don Wong
Lam Wong
He Shen Zhou Sam


The curators wish to thank: David Flynn, Smoked Grain, Douglas Chang, AI&OM Knives, Sida Chan, SunZen Gallery, Keith Snyder, Tozenji, Urasenke Vancouver Branch, TeaArt Canada, Leo Ray, Naoko Fukumaru, Nancy Nguyen, Jane Henry, Michael Henry, Xiang Ran, Ayako Sakaino, Gina Zuiten, Patti Thompson, Gareth Sirotnik, Patricia Chew, Danny Kostyshin, Hank Bull, Sonja Arntzen, Richard Lynn, Pedro Villalon, Steven Dragonn, staffs of Canton-sardine and UBC Asian Centre, the volunteers and most importantly the chawan artists for their participation and support to the Chawan exhibition.

Further readings

  • List of Chanwan (pdf)




Exhibition dates
APR 9 – JUNE 4, 2022

The Vanishing Landscape features the work of Chinese conceptual photographic artist Weng Fen 翁奮. Selected in Capture Photography Festival 2022, the exhibition will showcase his latest two series of absurd realism, The Vanishing Landscape and Learning to Live Better in this World.

Weng’s hometown, Dongjiao Town in Wenchang County, Hainan Island, has been developed into a large-scale satellite launch centre. The entire area is planned to be built into a new modern town. Reflecting on the complex psychological dilemma in balancing individual wants and community needs, the artist has turned his attention to the contradictions and conflicts brought about by the modernization of the island rural development to the land of traditional villages since 2007.

The series The Vanishing Landscape revolves around the tension between urban development and land occupation, rural land industrialization and farming, globalization and local economies, and economic planting and environmental destruction that have emerged during the process of Weng’s personal research and observation.

Learning to live better in this world is a response to the pandemic which began in January 2020. Weng and his family were isolated at home. During this period, the internet was flooded with chaotic and complicated information, which filled him with anxiety and helplessness. In order to maintain movement of his body and occupy his mind, the artist used his old golf putter and created a small golf ball from paper to imitate a golf swing. He recreated this complicated feeling in words, and the paper ball became the carrier for his resistance as he made paper balls and posters every day. This process of creation made him realize the essence of life: to live daily life to the fullest in this world.

About the artist
From a critical social research perspective, Weng Fen 翁奮 focuses on issues between people and the world, cities and villages, and land and homes that have been divided by modernity in China’s modernization movement, which reflecting on the conflicts, contradictions and crises between individuals and the real world under the background of globalization, while face the dilemmas. Focusing on local knowledge, lifestyle, history, memory, climate, environment, people, land, homes, and social psychology, he emphasizes the research and discovery of the inherent logic of local problems, and the concept of how to resist in daily life. Practice with media and methods such as photography, video, social actions, installations, ground objects and textual research, Weng’s series of photography received a world wide reputation,  the series including “riding the wall” (2001), “a bird’s-eye view” (2002), “seeing the sea” (2003), “climate image” (2007), “gazing at Ordos” (2013), and “lost homeland” (2020); His works participated in Shanghai Biennale (China 2002), Guangzhou Triennial (China 2002, 2005), Prague Biennale (Czech 2003), Liverpool Biennale-collateral events (UK 2007) and Venice Biennale-collateral events (Italy 2013), etc. as well as in group exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou (Paris), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the V&A Museum (London), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), and the M+ Art Museum (Hong Kong). His works are also in the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou (Paris), MoMA (New York), the MET (New York), the International Center of Photography (New York), the Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), and the M+ Art Museum (Hong Kong) etc.

Further reading:
Weng Fen’s “The Vanishing Landscape” | by Kristin Man  | Published on Art Asia Pacific Magazine | May, 2022

The Vanishing Landscape-A huge artificial island was built at the sea entrance of our village \ 2021 \ inkjet print \ 150x450cm \ courtesy of artist
The Vanishing Landscape-A fishing village near my home is built into a commercial complex \ 2021 \ inkjet print \ 150x268cm \ courtesy of artist
The Vanishing Landscape-the place where cattle and sheep graze in our village has been developed into an industrial zone \ 2021 \ inkjet print \ 150x268cm \ courtesy of artist
Learning to Live Better in this World | 2021 | inkjet print | 30x38cmx342pics \ courtesy of artist

Artists Talk

Any Thing Going Away, Where Ever Remains

Exhibition Title: Any Thing Going Away, Where Ever Remains
Venue: Canton-sardine
Exhibition Date: Feb 5 – March 26, 2022
Curator: Steven Dragonn

Amy Li-chuan Chang
Wei Cheng
Steven Dragonn
Lixiao He
Judy Jheung
Ella Mievovsky
Rui Min
Alina Senchenko
Abi Sheng
Fabien Villon
Anne Watson
Pongsakorn Yananissorn
Peili Zhang

Are we humans shaping ourselves into what we would like to be?

Yes, perhaps, no. We work hard to be what we think we would like to be. Sometimes, we really make it happen as wish, but other times, things turn out to be different and then we trick ourselves to believe that the undesirable outcomes are simply by-product, a necessary sacrifice due to what we really want to achieve. While humans have “ruled” the world for a “long” period of time and dinosaurs had “presided” even longer, yet on the scale of our planet’s history, both periods are relatively short spans of time. Are we under- or over-exerting ourselves?

In the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) Sarah Connor says at the end of the movie: “The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope, because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.”

Some people claim that the conception of posthumanism may be just a hypothetical proposition. Some people say that whether it is expected or not, posthumanism is already on its way. In this exhibition, the curator does not announce a certain theory or perspective. If possible, we may hope to re-examine human nature from the anticipated status of posthumanism: May we recognize the reality of human nature, scrutinize its existence, and re-think what we are only when we disappear?

Firefly / Amy Li-chuan Chang / Ceramics, Led bulbs, wires / size variable / 2021
Firefly is one of Chang’s new pieces in a series titled Artificial Intelligence. This group of work plays with the idea of how new technology could manifest in our daily lives. Artificial intelligence transformed the firefly into a flying light bulb, which criticizes the world we live in without insects. Amy Li -Chuan Chang 張麗娟 is a Taiwanese Canadian ceramics artist based in Vancouver. She received her BFA at The Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2007. Amy is a studio artist focusing on contemporary ceramic sculpture.

Essentialist Portraiture / Wei Cheng / Ceramics / size variable / 2021
Inspired by Essentialism, the Essentialist Portraiture series intends to evoke the questions about the preset attributes of human social identities. Born and raised in China, Wei Cheng 成瑋 now lives and dedicates her art practice in Vancouver, BC. She earned her art education from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where she learned to appreciate the ceramic medium. She has been a resident artist at Alferd,  Jingdezhen and Yixin pottery center, and her professional practice has also taken her to the States and Europe.  

The Future is Our Fault & War is not over! / Steven Dragonn / Fake bullet holes on the wall, Inkjet print on papers / size variable / 2021
This conceptual piece is Dragonn’s response to Yoko Ono and John Lenon’s famous conceptual public art piece War is Over, which expresses the threat of war in our current time.  Steven Dragonn 龍邃洋 is a visual artist based in Vancouver and Guangzhou China. Graduated from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art in China with a BFA and from University of Paris East in France with a MA, he is director, curator and founder of Canton≠sardine. He is a beyond≠Conceptualist and Neo Hyper≠real Pictorialist across communicatics and personal visual experience. Specifically, he dedicated his work to examining political and social injustice, while his main curatorial interests include individual experience, migration of minorities, minor gender, personal identities, and social political sufferance.

The 45th day / Lixiao He / Video / 5’51” / 2014
The 45th day is He’s performance video piece in the series of The continuation of 100 days, in which He made 100 performances during 100 days. This performance expresses the Artist’s childhood memory with the quick change of rural hometown without environmental consideration. Lixiao He 何利校 is a performance artist graduated from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art and now based in Shenzhen China. His works always reflect the problematics of body mechanism, human/ inhuman behaviors and the resistance in contemporary urbanism society.  

Love is in the Air_plastic moment / Judy Jheung / Thousand of plastic cups collected by artist during years / 12x11x2ft / 2000-2015
Love is in the Air_plastic moment is a multi-component installation that explores issues of our contemporary world that are increasingly similar and borderless, through globalized consumerism and consumption. The work project distorts travel narratives by presenting an accumulation of airline artifacts. Judy Jheung holds an MFA from Pratt Institute, New York and a BFA from University of Calgary. From 2012 to 2014, she conducted her PhD studies at Simon Fraser University. She is a recipient of numerous grant awards for her experimental projects. Her artistic practice focuses on experiential & global issues in the context of social urban movements.

Praying for Time / Ella Mievovsky / ink and oil painting on plaster, painted wood shelf / 120x6x22cm / 2022
This work is showcased as a timeline where elements of time have been fixed in several places of the world during the same day and the same hour. Using surveillance cameras that record places and humans in a random way, the artist composed a score with plaster supports that give a different rhythm and underline the event that is inscribed. Praying for time is the uncompromising look of a machine on the human and the world. Will the traces we leave be readable for future generations? What to read of our time? Ella Mievovsky is a French/Russian artist based in Moscow and Lyon. She graduated from Rodchencko art school in Russia in 2019. Her work has been mainly seen in several group shows in Moscow, Paris and Lyon. She questions our perception of images through new technologies.

Old waste land / Rui Min / Video / 4’40” / 2020 
An Old Waste Land eliminates the popularity of video-type social apps such as Tiktok and Kwai with the right of speech in the underclass society. Enabling the shout out of their own voice, the random square-dancing, the occasional unreasonable behavior in the public space, have formed a real but mysterious. Rui Min 閔睿 graduated from Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts, China. He focused on the relationship between photographic and non-photographic media, and integrated, processed and re-presented existing information. He also reinvents established fields, visual forms to show a continuum of data.

Fireworks look better from a distance / Alina Senchenko / Video, artist book / 4x8ft / 2022
The work navigates experiences of witnesses of fireworks and missiles using amateur video clips, audio and storytelling highlighting the blurry lines between excitement and horror. By juxtaposing the experience of war and celebration together with the personal stories related to the occasions the work questions the notion of spectatorship and war in the 21st century in light of rising conflict in particular in Ukraine. Alina Senchenko is a Ukrainian born visual artist. With photography as the foundation of her practice she has sought to explore contemporary events and representations of Ukraine. This work at times involves photography, the appropriation of mass media images, found historical photographs, video and text.    

Quantum Paradox / Abi Sheng / Video / 1’54” / 2021
What is essential to you is your computational configuration…Once the body is a transformative form, we are free and will be united in diversity, in the feed, the cosmological consciousness. Abi Sheng 盛欣瑜 is a body engineer whose work is devoted to rebuilding the identity system and constructing a utopia for equality by offering a system for customizable, transformative physical appearances and body modifications through fashion. Graduated from Royal College of Art in London, UK with a MA, she is developing the idea of re-engineering bodies with generative design, combing anatomy, and mechanical engineering. 

I Do / Anne Watson / Video / 7’56” / 2010
This video, filmed in 2010 at the Great Salt Lake in Utah, symbolizes the marriage of air to water/earth and the artist to her own death. Anne Watson is an American/Canadian installation and video artist.  Her work has appeared in over 30 group and solo shows in North America and Europe. She received her MFA from New York University in the US. Her works express the elasticity of time, considerations of place and self, reflections and transparency, and the connections between earth and air and our place in it all.

Fruit / Fabien Villon / Latex mask of the artist face with metal and pigments powders, glass sculpture made with Ferrari Testarossa gas emission, stainless steel hooks / 23x28x25cm / 2021

Chocolate / Fabien Villon / Copper, gold, silver and pigment powders on blanket, glue, varnish, stainless steel hooks / / 180x130x7cm / 2021
Fruit is a kind of self-portrait of the artist’s face and a glass sculpture blown with exhaust gas from a sports car instead of human breath. Pollution replaces human breath in a random man / machine confrontation – full and empty, soft and hard, a bubble of dreams and nightmares. Chocolate belongs to a series of experimentations with several techniques borrowed from the scientific police to sublimate damaged windscreen prints. Fabien Villon is a French artist, curator and teacher. He graduated from ENSAD Paris and UDK, Berlin. He mainly experiments with the passing of time and accident as a reflective and elastic substance between material, imagery and environment, a way to question our relationship to progress, technology and nature.

Tale of Ten Suns / Pongsakorn Yananissorn / Video / 7’ (multiple videos), metal, golden foil, tv screen / 2022 
Tale of Ten Suns is a non linear narrative on the human conquest of time. From water clocks to satellites, mythology weaves with scientific colonialism to tame the concept of time and thus control the flow of progress. When all possibilities cannot be exhausted within daylight, we ought to create our own suns. Pongsakorn Yananissorn is an artist  and curator based in Bangkok,Thailand. He is a member of Chareon Contemporaries collective as well as curator of Speedy Grandma art space. He works around configurations of systems and tracing narratives of histories through languages. Additionally, he is committed to instigate and create different modes of living and working together through employing shared fictions.

A live broadcast that may last for several years / Peili Zhang / Video of live streaming / 2021-
A live broadcast that may last for several years questioning the sustainability of human power, ideology, and the domination of nowhere or anywhere.  Renowned as “the godfather of video art in mainland China”, Peili Zhang 張培力 is a pivotal artist in Chinese contemporary art and a critical figure in video art worldwide. He received an MFA from China Academy of Fine Arts, and was affiliated with the ’85 New Wave movement. His work is based on a critique of the ideology and the methodology that perpetuate systems of social representation, especially language and meaning, and time as the most basic fact of existence.